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FACT SHEET: Iowan Agriculture, Business and Jobs Supported by Exports

President Obama’s trade agenda will unlock opportunity for Iowan farmers and ranchers, workers, and businesses – strengthening the American middle class

Iowa is the second-largest exporter of agricultural products in the United States, and in 2013 tens of thousands of jobs were supported by Iowan exports. Trade is a key driver of Iowa’s economy, and President Obama’s two highest trade priorities, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, will give Iowa and the United States enhanced access to Iowa’s four largest export markets – Canada, Mexico, Japan, and the European Union.   

Exports Support Jobs in Iowa and Across the United States

  • Tens of thousands of jobs were supported by Iowan exports in 2013.  
  • In 2011 (latest year available), nearly one-quarter (24.5%) of all manufacturing workers in Iowa depended on exports for their jobs.
  • In 2013, Iowan goods exports were $13.9 billion, an increase of 165%, or $8.6 billion, from its export level in 2003.
  • Total exports from Iowa helped contribute to the record-setting value of U.S. goods and services exports in 2013, which reached $2.3 trillion.
  • Nationally, jobs supported by exports reached more than 11 million in 2013, up 1.6 million since 2009.
  • Every billion dollars of U.S. exports of goods supported an estimated 5,400 jobs in 2013.
  • Jobs supported by goods exports pay an estimated 13% to 18% above the national average.

Exports are Vital to Iowan Farmers and Ranchers

  • Iowa is the 2nd largest exporter of agricultural products, shipping $11.3 billion in agricultural exports in 2012 (latest data available according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture).  
  • Iowa ranked as the largest exporter of soybeans ($3.6 billion), pork ($2.0 billion), corn ($1.7 billion), feeds and fodder ($1.0 billion), and processed grain products ($775 million) in the United States.  

Exports Sustain Thousands of Iowa Businesses

  • A total of 3,367 companies exported from Iowa in 2012. Of those, 2,786 (82.7 %) were small- and medium-sized enterprises with fewer than 500 employees.
  • Small and medium-sized firms generated over one-sixth (17.1 %) of Iowa's total exports of merchandise in 2012.

Iowa Depends on World Markets

  • Iowa’s export shipments of merchandise in 2013 totaled $13.9 billion.
  • The state’s largest market was Canada.  Iowa posted merchandise exports of $4.4 billion to Canada in 2013, representing 32% of Iowa’s total merchandise exports.
  • Canada was followed by Mexico ($2.2 billion), Japan ($979 million), Germany ($679 million),              and China ($603 million).
  • Iowa’s exports to our 20 existing trade agreement partners cover 56% of Iowa’s overall exports ($7.8 billion). 
  • The state's largest manufacturing export category is Machinery, Except Electrical, which accounted for $3.9 billion of Iowa's total merchandise exports in 2013.
  • Other top manufacturing exports are Processed Foods ($3.1 billion), Chemical Products ($1.5 billion), Transportation Equipment ($1.0 billion), and Primary Metals ($601 million). 

Iowa Will Benefit from President Obama’s Trade Agenda

  • President Obama’s top trade priorities are the Trans-Pacific Partnership with the Asia-Pacific Region and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union – two state-of-the-art agreements that will unlock opportunity in the United States by fostering economic growth, supporting jobs, and bolstering our competitiveness.
  • Four out of Iowa’s top five export markets will be covered by the Trans-Pacific Partnership (Canada, Mexico, and Japan), and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (Germany), making it easier for Iowan workers, farmers and ranchers, and businesses to sell more Made-in-America exports to Iowa’s main customers.
  • 60% of Iowa’s exports ($8.4 billion) already go to TPP countries. 
  • 16% of Iowa’s exports ($2.2 billion) already go to T-TIP countries.

International Investment Creates Jobs in Iowa

  • In 2011 (latest year available), foreign-controlled companies employed 49,200 Iowan workers. Major sources of foreign investment in Iowa in 2011 included United Kingdom, Netherlands, Japan, and Germany.
  • Foreign investment in Iowa was responsible for 3.9 % of the state's total private-industry employment in 2011.

Iowa’s Major Metropolitan Areas Benefit from Exporting

In 2012, the following metropolitan areas in Iowa recorded merchandise exports:

  • Davenport-Moline Rock Island ($7.9 billion, portions of this MSA are shared with one or more other states)
  • Sioux City ($1.8 billion, portions of this MSA are shared with one or more other states)
  • Des Moines-West Des Moines ($1.2 billion)
  • Cedar Rapids ($889 million)
  • Waterloo-Cedar Falls ($372 million)
  • Iowa City ($336 million)
  • Ames ($251 million)
  • Dubuque ($139 million)